CRM without the Allen keys

With a little assembly work IKEA’s Canadian contact centre has been outfitted with new tools, including customer relationship management (CRM) software.

The centre, which handles more then 1.6 million calls annually, expanded from 50 seats to 225 last June, according to Montreal-based Gerry Wong, manager of the IKEA contact centre.

Along with a larger facility, the contact centre was outfitted with interactive voice response (IVR) and computer-telephony integration features as well as CRM technology from Elix, a Montreal-based company specializing in call centre software.

“With 50 seats, we had a simple solution for phone technology, but moving into a larger facility, we needed new features such as skill-based routing. There were two advantages to moving to that technology – one was for IVR, the other was for more convenience for our customers,” Wong said.

IVR is used for caller identification. It identifies a caller’s telephone number or consumer tracking information, such as an invoice number for a specific order. These numbers are matched with information in a database to retrieve historical customer data or a profile, and will pop up on the contact centre associate’s screen.

Mariane L’Ecuyer, director of management consulting at Elix, said IVR is also used for the selection of service required. This includes options such as language preference, business or consumer options, and store departments. It also allows customers to complete self-service functions.

Besides finding out information such as business hours and locations, customers are now able to track their own orders and verify store inventory, Wong said. Considering that 25 per cent of all calls made to IKEA’s contact centre are for catalogue orders, these self-service functions drastically cut down on the need to speak with an agent.

“Agents can concentrate on calls that actually require their help,” Wong said, noting that statistics show that the average cost of a call in Canada is around five dollars.

The second set of technology installed into the contact centre was computer telephony integration using Elix’s Genesys.

“IKEA deployed two major components: the screen pop, which is the capacity to pop callers’ information to agents simultaneously with the incoming call, and the CRM screen [Elix Impresario] which presents who the caller is, what language to service him with and the exact reason of his call,” L’Ecuyer said.

The Impresario, known to the call centre staff as the agent cockpit, allows supervisors to send messages to the agents and delivers real-time statistics on customer service levels. It also helps track how many customers are waiting, their reason for calling, and how many agents are dealing with customers at any given time.

According to Wong, IKEA was able to keep some of its existing infrastructure in place, but it found that tying everything together was a challenge.

“There were numerous providers needed besides Elix to get everything up and running [such as telecom companies and hardware vendors]. The biggest challenge we had was trying to get the different nuances with every system to communicate,” he said.

Wong said that while the Swedish furniture maker’s Canadian call centre is happy with its current technology situation, plans to further customize the solution are in the works. This will likely occur in areas such as statistics gathering and reporting.